By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Donald Trump appears bent on achieving one major objective, at least for him: Dismantling the nation’s current health care system – no matter what the cost. This brazen and totally vindictive executive decision would literally put millions of poor and low-income Americans in extreme peril by removing their healthcare coverage safety net.
Trump and the Republican- controlled Congress have been trying for months to unravel President Obama’s signature health care law. However, repeated attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare have consistently fallen short of the mark, which has left Trump seething with anger.
The Department of Health and Human Services made the announcement in a statement last Thursday indicating that the health care cost saving subsidies would be discontinued immediately. And, in a series of tweets the next morning, Trump called on Democrats to reach out to him to “fix” the law, which he called a “broken mess.” “The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!” he tweeted.
Here’s the political reality. Nearly 6 million enrollees, or 57%, qualify for the cost sharing payments this year, according to the most recent data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The subsidies are expected to cost the federal government about $7 billion in 2017.
The uncertainty over the subsidies’ fate was a key reason that many insurers are substantially hiking their rates for 2018 — some by more than 20%. Several major carriers dropped out of the individual market, unwilling to wait and see what Trump and congressional Republicans would do.
Trump and the White House contend that reason for this decision was driven by the fact the Government cannot lawfully make the cost sharing reduction payments because the subsidies had never been funded by Congress. And, according to White House, the bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system.
But, in truth, Trump’s decision to end the health care subsidies was politically motivated – plain and simple. Unable to gut the health care law through the traditional legislative process, Trump has now opted to use his executive authority to accomplish his objective. Ending payments will not only spike premiums but will force most, if not all, insurers out of the healthcare marketplaces –and result in the ultimate demise of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The GOP alleges that Obamacare has proven itself to be a fatally flawed law. Most would agree (including Democrats) that the ACA needs some revision, but to say that the law is intrinsically lacking is a gross misrepresentation and a blatant lie. This false narrative that Republicans continue to advance speaks directly to their desperation and total disregard for the countless Americans that will be harmed.
As we have seen repeatedly, the real focus of Donald Trump’s “policy agenda” is all about propping up his personal ego and promoting his personal brand. Sabotaging the current health care system is clearly a recipe for disaster, while the Republican-controlled Congress remains complicit in its silence.